Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Lone Ranger - A Remberance - 3 Days Late

On December 28, 1999 one of my childhood heroes rode off into the sunset for the last time with a mighty Hi-yo Silver, away! That was the day that Jack Carlton Moore rode to his final sunset. You may know him as Clayton Moore, or even better as The Lone Ranger. For those of you who don't remember him, he was The Lone Ranger of the 1950's television series by the same name (well for all but one season when he was replaced by John Hart, but then came back to the role the next year).

The Lone Ranger, was the sole survivor of an ambush on a group of 6 Texas Rangers. He vowed to bring justice to those who had killed his older brother and the other 4 rangers killed in the ambush (no not at all like the Lone Ranger of the movie circa the early 1980's who was more of an inept metrosexual girlie man than he was anything close to resembling a Texas Ranger). The Lone Ranger, masked and accompanied by his faithful friend Tonto as they rode across the west were role models for American children at a time when role models were meant to instill good qualities within us. Through their on screen heroics they taught us about such things as honesty, loyalty, friendship, patriotism, civic pride, democracy, responsibility for our actions, a good work ethic, equality of all men, self sacrifice, and so on. Try to find those same values being taught on television shows today, or even in schools, not that easy is it! Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels (the actor who portrayed Tonto) both had a firm belief in all of the values I just mentioned and they both believed it was important for them to be good role models for American children. Once he was cast in that role, Clayton Moore's life would change forever - he would actually become The Lone Ranger.



Long after his final film appearance as the Lone Ranger in 1958, Moore would continue to make public appearances as the Lone Ranger. Thus he remained a role model for children not only in the U.S.A. but around the world many years after his acting career had ended. The truth be told he essentially gave up that career to continue to make appearances as the mysterious masked man in order to spread good as a positive role model for children. Then in 1979 an unimaginable thing happened. Moore was stripped of the right to refer to himself as The Lone Ranger and to wear the mask that had become his trademark garb. The reason was simple - I believe it to have been greed an nothing else. You see, the rights to the Lone Ranger name and story had been sold and a new movie was being produced. Justice though, a kind not served by court order, soon would be served as it always had been in the hundreds of episodes of the Lone Ranger television series. The 1981 movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger bombed in theaters. The fact that Moore had lost the right to portray himself as The Lone Ranger is believed to have played a pivotal role in keeping movie goers away from theaters that showed this movie. Of course, the character of the Lone Ranger in the 1981 bomb was portrayed very differently than it had been the original radio and television versions. That in combination with Moore having been stripped of his mask had fans incensed. In 1985, Moore was again allowed to resume using the name of The Lone Ranger and was again allowed to don the mask and outfit for public appearances.

The time period in which Moore lost his right to wear the mask and portray himself as the Lone Ranger up through the year after he won that right back was a tough one for him. Not only was the legal battle stressful, but the following year, 1980, Jay Silverheels passed away. Moore had had a close relationship with him and his words about him were quite telling: “I could only hope that Jay, wherever he was, knew how much I loved him and respected him and how much of an impact he had on my life and so many other lives...”. Then, in 1986, year after he won the rights back, his wife of many years (since his army days in WWII) passed away. Despite the pain, none of this deterred Moore from being The Lone Ranger.

The character was so ingrained into Moore's life that he essentially gave up his career in acting to continue to be The Lone Ranger. For decades after the series and last movie (with him as the Lone Ranger) were filmed, he made public appearances as The Lone Ranger. (I saw him once, at such an appearance. I cannot recall where or when but I can recall the thrill I felt, and I was no kid anymore at that time. Heck I also remember my most prized possession as a kid - silver bullets - sure they were plastic but they were real silver to me.) Giving up acting probably was no easy thing for Moore.
As for his acting career, he was referred to as the King of the B's for his roles in many serials of his days at Republic Pictures. He was a well respected actor and on his way up and his role as the masked man skyrocketed him to fame. Coincidentally enough, his last film before he took up the role of The Lone Ranger was that of another masked hero in: The Ghost of Zoro. Sortly after he completed that film he was approached by Lone Ranger creator George Trendle, in 1949, and asked if he wanted the part of the Lone Ranger. Moore's answer was almost prophetic when he said: "Mr. Trendle, I am The Lone Ranger".



Over the many years since he first donned the mask, the six shooters that shot silver bullets, saved the innocent with his faithful friend Tonto, and cried "Hi-yo Silver, away" while riding his horse Silver off into the sunset - he lived up to the character of the Lone Ranger so much so that his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is reportedly the only one not only to show the actor's name, but also the name of his character - 'The Lone Ranger'. In the television series, as The Lone Ranger rode off into the sunset, the show often ended with someone whom he had saved asking: "Who was that masked man"? While his identity never was divulged to the other characters in the series, at least not to the bad guys or to those whom he would invariably rescue from the bad guys, that secret was one of the hallmarks of the show. Today though we know the answer to the question. I suppose it was Moore who said it best himself. He said it first to Mr. Trendle when asked if he wanted the part, with his prophetic answer as seen above. Then years later in his autobiography, he said it this way:

"It doesn't matter that I am Clayton Moore, an actor, and that the Lone Ranger is a legendary figure of folklore. In more ways than I can count, we have become one and the same. I have absorbed parts of him, and he has taken on the best elements of my personality. Until the day I am taken to that big ranch in the sky, I will continue to wear the mask proudly and to do my best to live up to the standards of honor, decency, respect, and patriotism that have defined the Lone Ranger since 1933."


By the way, the name of his book was: I Was That Masked Man!

Of course there was a lot more to Moore's life than being The Lone Ranger. He was married four times, he had several other acting roles, he had been a trapeze artist and appeared as such at the 1934 World's Fair, he had been a model, he was in the U.S. Army during WWII, and he was a true patriot. The thing is though, Moore had always had a dream of becoming a cowboy actor! Little did he probably ever suspect that not only would he act out his dream, but he would become The Lone Ranger a character in existence since 1933! No other radio, television or film actor is more associated with The Lone Ranger than was Clayton Moore.




In closing my tribute to Clayton Moore - The Lone Ranger - let me share with you his creed, the Code of The Lone Ranger, one that he lived by not only on the silver screen but apparently also lived by in real life:



The Lone Ranger's Creed:



"I believe:



That to have a friend, a man must be one.



That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.



That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.



In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.



That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.



That 'This government, of the people, by the people and for the people' shall live always.



That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.



That sooner or later ... somewhere ... somehow ... we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.



That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.



In my Creator, my country, my fellow man."

Heck if he had been around to run for president, I would have voted for him!



All the best,
Glenn B



PS: A new Lone Ranger movie reportedly is in the making. Let's hope it is true to the original theme; and let's hope they do not choose a loser like George Clooney to play the part as I have heard it hinted. I figure a more manly guy like Tom Seleck, or Mel Gibson would be a better choice, or even Bruce Willis - but not someone who is in my opinion an arse wipe pussified loser like George Clooney. Don't the movie makers get it - Clayton Moore was not only type cast as the Lone Ranger, the character of the Lone Ranger was type cast as Clayton Moore. So as a result, the actor who plays the Lone Ranger and the character of the Lone Ranger need to have the same principles as in the creed above - otherwise it just isn't The LONE RANGER!

As for Johnny Depp playing Tonto - as I heard is a definite - at least he is supposedly part American Indian. Yet, I would think Hollywood could come up with a better choice. Oh well, that's the Hollywood of today and not the 1950s. Seleck and Depp, you know maybe it could work...even though Depp could never fill Jay Silverheels' moccasins because Tonto also lived by those principles.



References:

http://www.lonerangerfanclub.com/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Ranger
http://youtube.com/

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What If The SHTF? Would You Be Ready?

When I think about it, I like to pretend that I am ready for just about anything. The truth be told, I am as are most Americans woefully prepared for a true Shit Hits The Fan (SHTF) scenario. Yeah, I am probably better prepared than many, probably even better prepared than most, but that does not mean I am properly prepared for a bad situation on a grand scale. Are you?

There are a lot of things wrong in the world today, and an awful lot of those things have converged into concentric rings that have formed around a place called the United States of America. Those rings have a dot in the middle and that dot is the center of the bull's eye - or ground zero for the next catastrophe. Now you may want to call me just another doomsayer, or simply some kind of paranoid kook, but I prefer to live by the motto that the boy scouts gave up so long ago - Be Prepared. In that regard I realize that the price of freedom is more than just perpetual vigilance, the real price of freedom is being prepared to do something about that which you have been watching for all of these years once it actually arrives on your doorstep. That bad thing, that shit that hits the fan, can come in many forms. It could be something like a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina with massive widespread flooding. It could also be a terrorist attack, something on a relatively small scale such as a small group of terrorists attacking a local shopping mall (something along the lines of the attacks in Mumbai). Maybe it will come as something on a larger scale, something like another 9/11 - maybe this time a dirty bomb, or several of them in various cities cross the country. Or maybe it will be civil unrest like race riots caused by a political assassination. Then again it could be civil war caused by the collapse of our economy, and then spurred on by ensuing collapse of our infrastructure, and the breakdown of our government as it ineptly tries to control the panicked masses who do not have enough to eat. Think that stuff like this is far fetched and that it cannot happen in our lifetimes, so do most Americans.

Then again, maybe you ought to think again because there are some who not only think it can happen but who have predicted the date. One of them, for example, is: Russian academic Igor Panarin. Go here and read this article at the Wall Street Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

For over 10 years now Mr. Panarin has predicted that the U.S.A. will collapse in the year 2010. All of a sudden he is being taken quite seriously. After all he is no kook. He has impressive credentials having been a KGB Intelligence Analyst, and now he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is a man whose opinions the Russian government take seriously. Sure, I know, there is a lot of anti-American sentiment in Russia, as the article points out, so they give him some extra credence when he spouts off anti-American predictions, but why not take a look at why he believes this country will collapse during a civil war. According to the article he thinks that the main problems that will bring us to that point are: a massive influx of immigrants (regardless of legal immigrants, how about just lack of any control over our borders and all the illegals who are swarming into our country), the decline of American morality (gay unions and marriages anyone, or how about rampant sex parades in the streets of San Fransicko, or how about giving child rapists sentences of a few weeks in jail ala that judge in Vermont about a year or so ago, or how about scheming to sell a senate seat, or how about oral sex from interns in the White House and on and on), and the failure of our economy (need I even point to examples here what with the recent bailouts of the financial, mortgage, and auto industries). Of course I could add a few more reasons for us to arrive at a point where the people might raise up arms in a civil war. How about: politicians who try to strip us of our liberties and rights at every chance they get such as Schumer, Feinstein, McCarthy, Boxer, Richardson, Clinton and the list goes on. What about the anti-American sentiment that comes out of the mouths of some politicos and celebrities - you know the type those who yearn for socialism here in the USA and who praise tyrants such as Castro, Kim Jong-il, or Hugo Chavez. Or how the outflow of our jobs to third world nations leaving us with the worst unemployment in years; no wonder no one could pay for those shaky mortgages. Then again what religious fanatics who have no tolerance for anything but their own visions of how it should be; but mind you they are just the same as ultra left wing atheists who feel the same about their own beliefs. This country has been in a downward spiral for quite sometime now, and even necessary things like the war against terrorism, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have only helped sap our economy of its prosperity. Kennedy was wrong when he said that Iraq is our current Vietnam. Iraq is more akin to our own version of the USSR's Afghanistan. That war sucked their economy dry, just as the Iraq war is doing to us at a time when our economy is floundering for a number of other reasons. Add to that the fact that the OPEC nations are trying to screw us royally by tightening the valves on oil production and the dimwits in our own government are too idiotic to allow for full scale oil exploration and drilling and you should see we are not all that far from a major catastrophe of the type that Panarin predicts. Heck we may also be the prime target of an alliance of nations that want to wage war against us too, that is not all that far fetched either when you consider our country is just about down on both knees without the strength to stand up again.

Now I am not saying it will happen, that is that the shit will hit the fan on that grand a scale. There have been many nations throughout history that have been in dire straits as are we now and that have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. Maybe we will be lucky, maybe we will wake up before it is too late, maybe we will win out and again stand tall and strong. Then again, maybe, just maybe, something bad will happen, and it will trigger something else bad, and that will do the same to something else, and the dominoes will start to tumble all over the place and we will be left in a huge stinking pile of shit of our own making. Will you be ready for it? I plan to be ready, because if the truth be told I think it quite possible that a major catastrophe is coming our way on a national if not global scale. One thing I can tell you is that my preparations do not include learning how to speak Russian or French Canadian, or boning up on my Spanish. So what else is there to do, in order to help prevent such a catastrophe or to be ready for it should it come.

I think there are several things, and I was brought up in a world that believed that a big SHTF situation was about to befall us. Yes I survived the Cold War, and I learned a lot about being prepared in a manner of which young folks today seem to have no concept. So exactly what plans do I have:

WATER:
I have spare water in my house to last for about a week, maybe even two weeks. I plan to stock up on additional water. I also plan to buy a water filtration system or two such as used by wilderness backpackers or survivalists.


FOOD:
I also have spare food in my house to last at least for days if not weeks. I plan to buy more, and to buy it soon. I will includes the following in my cache of food: Canned Goods - a supply of food (and water in some types of caned food) that can last for about 3 years shelf life. Canned foods will include all of the major food groups. I will also stock up on dry goods such as sacks of rice and beans; and of course on things like flour, sugar and other baking needs such as shortening and baking powder. In addition I will stock up on high energy foods such as snack bars, nuts, and certain types of candy. Some MREs may also wind up on the menu. I plan to have enough food on hand for a family of 6 to last one month.

MEDICAL SUPPLIES:
I am no doctor, nor a nurse, but I will keep certain medical supplies on hand. These will include several fair to good first aid kits. In addition I will stock up on some medicines even if only over the counter. Things like anti-diarrhea meds, antiseptics, first aide ointments, burn cream, aspirin, ibuprofin, and so forth. I will also keep things like hydrogen peroxide, providone iodine, and alcohol on hand. If I can swing it I will get some wide spectrum antibiotics with a long shelf life, and an extra supply of any meds my family currently requires.


OTHER HOME EMERGENCY SUPPLIES:
Flashlights, batteries, radios, batteries, walkie-talkies, batteries, you get the idea; but I also have candles, matches, and magnesium fire starters (note I said have since I have all of this already). When I can afford one, I'll buy a generator. The thing about a generator though is that if you have one you probably plan to stay on site at your home to use it. I am none too sure that would be the case, but I suppose if an emergency turns out that way, where we can hold up in our home, it would be excellent to have a generator. Of course a generator means you need fuel for it, so some gasoline safely stored would be a good idea, and enough for the generator and a car might be a better idea. In addition extra propane for my barbecue grill will also be on hand. No not because I think I would be able to have leisurely BBQs in my backyard in the event of a civil emergency or natural disaster, but because if the power and gas go out, I'll still have some way to cook without having to resort to trying to find firewood in an urban setting. That grill might also wind up being a temporary source of heat in a cold winter. I also have a camping stoove and a couple of camping lanterns (Coleman fuel types, can also use unleaded gasoline in at least one of the lanterns).

In addition I keep a good supply of tools on hand. Nothing special but things like screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, saws, a hammer or two and a bunch of hardware like nails and screws can come in handy during a number of emergencies. I also keep scrap wood after completing a project. You never know when you may have to board up the windows or window openings due to an oncoming hurricane, or due to rioters who have destroyed the windows. I also have a decent supply of tie downs such as bungee chords, and nylon ties on hand - they have multiple emergency uses. Finally do not forget DUCT TAPE the all around wonder tool.


EMERGENCY SHELTER:
I have a tent to sleep 4. I only have 2 sleeping bags. I need a few more sleeping bags. They do not have to be expensive mountaineer types, just well made ones that will keep someone fairly warm down to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit.


EMERGENCY BUG OUT KITS:
Ever watch MASH. Yep the sitcom about a American medical unit during the Korean War. One of my favorite scenes was when Colonel Potter yelled 'Bug Out' (happened in more than one episode as I recall) and the camp went into a tizzy as they tore it down to move it somewhere else because of impending doom. If the SHTF too close to home, or too badly near home, well we may just have to up and leave. If we do that we are leaving at least somewhat prepared for several days away from home and on our own. My emergency bug out kit includes grab and go bags (packs), garb and go boxes of food, a case or two of water, temporary shelter, blankets and sleeping bags, extra clothing, first aid kits, bug spray, sunscreen, a few days worth of meds, flashlights and batteries, candles, matches, magnesium fire starters, money, guns and ammo (where legal), knives, compasses, a road atlas, and so forth.

SPECIALIZED EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT:
Gas Masks and filters come to mind here. Think you will never need one, well again I say: "Think Again"! The Department of Homeland Security, the U.S.Intelligence Services, The U.S. Military, and the FBI all believe that a future terrorist attack within our borders is coming, and pretty soon too. They also believe the next attack has a good probability of being chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear. I only have one gas mask now, but plan to buy others within the next few months. My guess is that most people in Israel, Iraq and Iran never thought they would need them either.

Body armor is another consideration. Now I doubt I can afford a new bullet proof vest for every family member, but it is not a bad idea if you can afford them. At least one piece of body armor for the person most likely to find him or herself in a defense situation is recommended (if legal in your area).

SERIOUS ATTITUDE TOWARD PREPARATION:
In other words, I take this stuff seriously even if other family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers or people I pass on the street do not. You can bet that if it comes to a SHTF situation, just think along the likes of New Orleans after Katrina, other family members will be happy you discussed some sort of plan with them, and that you told them what to grab before they get up and go if it comes to that. Along those lines you may also want to tell them were to meet. If you have to sit it out at home, wouldn't it be nice to know that you were safe and sound inside your house, ready to survive at least a week, or even more, if need be.

Believe me folks, I think that a nuclear attack on the USA by the USSR was more far fetched than do I think is the possibility of a serious large scale terrorist attack within our borders in the next couple of years at most. I also believe that Panarin may have something when he predicts mass scale civil unrest or even some sort of uprising within the next couple of years due to our economy and other factors. I am of course hopeful that they will not take place, just as I am hopeful that an earthquake or hurricane will not destroy my neighborhood. Then again, I am also pragmatic enough to realize that should something like any of those happen, my neighbors are not about to feed me and give me shelter when they are not prepared to take care of themselves. As for the government coming to the rescue on a White Steed - forget about it, it will be the government and its ineptness that will likely cause the problem in the first place. Me - I plan to be ready, and if I don't need the stuff, well I can use a lot of it on camping trips, at barbecues, and for pot luck dinners before the perishables reach their expiration dates. Then I can restock just in case because one never knows.

SHTF situations are a reality, they can and sometimes do happen, that is why the Boy Scouts have that motto "Be Prepared". The Boy Scouts though just never told you, or I, for what to be prepared! So I chose to be prepared for just about anything. Remember that other saying too about vigilance because being forever vigilant is a good thing too. Bear in mind though that vigilance is only part of being prepared, it only works to a point. While there are no guarantees you will survive an emergency situation uninjured or alive, being prepared and actually doing something about that for which you were keeping vigil will separate you from those who never had much of a chance to make it through to see tomorrow. While they will have relied on dialing 911 in a panic at the same moment when almost everyone else was flooding the emergency phone lines screaming for help, you will have been ready, willing and able to see it through with your family thanks to your preparations and planning.


All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SKS Cleaning - it was a chore

I expected to get a few of my guns cleaned and lubricated today. I sat down this morning with the Yugo SKS across my lap and commenced to take it apart. After a few minutes of this and that, I realized I forgot a step and I had to resort to my video on how to field strip it. Yes it has been awhile since I cleaned it. No problem though, a quick trip up to my PC, a fast view of the video, and the issue was resolved. Piece of cake to field strip it once you remember how to do it. While I have the instructions for disassembly and reassembly on disc, you can also find those instructions online for free. If you need such info you can find it here: http://www.surplusrifle.com/sks/index.asp.

After that I went at getting it clean. Once I had it apart, and I had gotten a look inside of it, I thought - 'Oh my gosh that 7.62x39 Wolf Ammo sure is dirty shooting ammo". There was black fouling just about everywhere. I cleaned here, cleaned there, then cleaned here and there again, and again. Finally after using about 20 cleaning patches, and about 25 double ended cotton swabs, and a brass brush, and a steel brush, and about an ounce of Hoppes, and a pipe cleaner or two, it looked almost clean. As you may have guessed, that cleaning took me some time, I'd say at least an hour and fifteen minutes. Heck it never takes me more than about 15 to 20 minutes to clean one of my rifles thoroughly, so while I was taking all that time cleaning this one I had lots of time to think about why it was so dirty. The consensus of my little gray cells, both the lively healthy ones, and the slower dying ones, and even the totally pulverized ones all came to the consensus that maybe - just maybe - it was not the fault of the ammo so much as it was that I had not cleaned the darned thing after having shot it several times on various range trips. It actually took me a moment or two to remember I had been testing it.

Now there is an important point in knowing that my SKS could be fired at the range, and in between trips to the range that it could sit in my basement without having been cleaned, then be taken out again and fired again, then stored without cleaning again, then fired again, then stored without cleaning again, and on and on over the course of at least several more range trips. That point mind you is not that I am lazy about cleaning my SKS, but rather that it can and will fire when very dirty, and that it fires reliably despite the fouling. As a matter of fact, the carbon deposits on the face of the gas piston was probably as thick as two sheets of 20 lb. computer paper. That is darned thick. Yet the SKS has functioned flawlessly throughout having hundreds of rounds fired through it, then being stored, then fired again, and so forth on and on without cleanings. My guesstimate is that at least 750 to 1,000 rounds have gone through it since I last cleaned it.

Of course I do not recommend that you neglect cleaning your firearms. I only did it because I wanted to test it; I wanted to see about how long it could go without a cleaning and if it could go up to 1,000 rounds without cleaning. Somewhere in there though I lost my tally sheet. I do recall I was close to the 750 mark, and I also recall I shot it once or twice after that. It is not a picky rifle, and the gas vents stayed open and not fouled badly although things like the gas control valve, and the front face of the gas piston, and parts of the bolt were fouled almost beyond belief (yes the Wolf ammo is dirty but not excessively so, the excessive fouling was due to no cleanings). I like the fact that is can handle some dirt and still keep firing like a charm. From now on though it will get properly cleaned right after each time I fire it.


Now you may remember that I began this piece by saying: "I expected to get a few of my guns cleaned and lubricated today"; but the truth is it just did not happen. There was no time, what with all the time it took to clean the one SKS, so that is all I got done in the gun cleaning department. With relatives coming for a belated Christmas celebration, and with me needing to go to a few stores, especially to the beer distributor time was tight. Those Franziskaner Hefe Weissbiers I picked up were great, but my guns had to be put away before I could enjoy even a sip, and there is always tomorrow to get some others cleaned and they just need a routine light cleaning having been in storage. Once I get them done, I just may have to have another bier or two.

All the best,
Glenn B

WORST BUY?

This Christmas I received gift cards, a lot of them. Some were for Best Buy, others for Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabela's, Barnes & Noble, and EBay. This morning I decided to take a look at Best Buy for a digital camera. I don't want anything extravagant, and figured that the $150 worth of gift cards I have for Best Buy would get me just what I wanted, a Canon Power Shot A590 IS. Since I had just picked on up for my son from Del at about $130 (including tax, shipping and an add on 4 GB memory card) I figured I would get close to the same price at Best Buy. I mean after all there name is BEST Buy, isn't it? In addition I knew they had a price match guarantee, so how could I go wrong.

Where to begin in answer to that. I guess the first place to go wrong was that the gift giver of those Best Buy gift cards, through no fault of her own, thought like me. In what regard? Well, that they have a price match guarantee at BestBuy.com so they must have highly competitive prices - right! WRONG at least from what I can tell. BestBuy.com has some of the highest prices of any of the larger retailers that I checked for the item for which I am shopping. This also held true for their store in my area, where I did some Christmas shopping - but no buying. As for the camera, I also checked price some other cameras, you know - figuring maybe it was just the one item that seemingly was overpriced at BestBuy.com in comparison to the rest of the market. Again I was wrong in my thinking. All of the other cameras on which I checked the price at bestBuy.com, even those for sale like was the Canon Power Shot 590IS, were more at BestBuy.com than at other large retailers. The asking price of the Canon A590 IS was $142.49 AND that was the SALE price. Large retailers have it at lower prices like: Dell has it advertised for $109.00, Costco has it for $129.99, WalMart has it for $139.47. Even smaller specialty retailers have it for less: J&R for $109.88, B&H for $109.95. (All prices found at except for WalMart's were found the following link, WalMart's price was found on the WalMart site:

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/canon-powershot-a590-is/4014-6501_7-32826173.html?tag=rtcol;shop

Okay, BestBuy.com has what they call a PRICE MATCHING/PRICE GUARANTEE. I figured I could use my Best Buy gift cards wisely and use their BestBuy.com price matching/price guarantee to match a price like that offered by Dell. Good idea - right? WRONG!!! The price matching/price guarantee offered by BestBuy.com apparently applies only to prices offered by Best Buy stores and or BestBuy.com itself! Did you get that? I did not at first either, then I carefully read their price matching/price guarantee. If it is not the most bizarre, or at least not the most brilliant piece of marketing bullshit, price match I have ever read then I have never read another price match policy. Please allow me to assure you that I have read quite a few before I saw that of BestBuy.com. Here is a link to it:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?type=page&contentId=1043363603302&id=cat12098#01

Now, just in case they change it yet keep the same link address, let me print it here for your information:

"BestBuy.com Price Matching/Price Guarantee

If you've made a BestBuy.com purchase and discover a lower price offered on our Web site or at a Best Buy store on the same available brand and model, let us know and we'll match that price on the spot, tax included.

Exclusions: The BestBuy.com Price Guarantee does not apply to competitors' offers; third-party offers; online auction sites; shipping charges; clearance, Outlet Center and open-box items (when price matching with a Best Buy store); items for sale November 27th through 29th, 2008; special offers or promotions such as mail-in incentives, gift-with-purchase and financing offers; services such as installation; or typographical errors. Best Buy stores in Puerto Rico have their own price match policy."

(Please note that the red color and boldface added by me for emphasis. GRB)

So what are they saying with their PRICE MATCHING/PRICE GUARANTEE. They are telling us that they will match their own prices between their retail store and their .com business, or between their .com store on one day with one price and on another day with another price - but they apparently will not match the prices offered by competitors. Wow how munificent of them! Whom are they fracking kidding? Why bother having a price matching policy at all if that is all they are offering? I'll tell you why I think they have it - I think it is so they can bamboozle their customers into thinking they are getting something at a good competitive price, but that is just my opinion - you can make up your own mind after reading their guarantee. I figure that like me most folks just see they have a price matching policy and figure how can they go wrong - that of course without actually reading it.


Here again, we have what I believe to be a prime example of why American businesses are doing so poorly. Why - because their policies toward their customers suck - that's why. Either the American retailer or manufacturer, or other business sticks us, the customers, with things like bad promises, come on deals that fall through, crappy merchandise, or gimmick guarantees like this one. To me this price matching means virtually nothing to the shopper like me who is truly trying to save money and really get a BEST buy. I mean come on now - what kind of a price match is it when they will only match their own prices?

Now mind you, I am not faulting the person who bought me those gift cards - not at all. I love my wife dearly and have to live with her, and I complain too much while around her, so I want to make it absolutely clear I am not in any way complaining about her or about her purchase of these gift cards. It was a nice gift, and a nicer thought that went into buying them. It is only against Best Buy that I am targeting my disappointment when I say, that without a doubt in my opinion, Best Buy has the worst price matching type guarantee I have ever seen. Best Buy = Worst Buy as far as I am concerned.

Who knows, maybe I can get lucky and find some sap of a customer at one of their stores to buy the $150 worth of gift cards from me for $145 cash. I can only hope so. I'd still be saving money by giving a deal like that.

All the best,
Glenn B

Return of The Yugo SKS

At long last, after having it sit around in its box down in my basement for over a month or was it months, I was finally able to return my recent purchase of a Yugo SKS to SAMCO. I just received the return UPS label from them earlier this week. Can you imagine that, having to wait so long just to receive the return label, and companies in the USA wonder why their business has been falling off. It is not just the bank mess, nor the auto maker mess, it is the incompetence of American workers mess 9or at least the incompetence of the worker hired by the American companies mess - such as in the wetback who can barely speak, read or write English. I suppose that the reason for the long delay in my receiving a UPS label that SAMCO supposedly sent to me weeks ago (and this was the second label they sent me since I never received the first one from them) was the fact that they had my address wrong, at least on the envelope for this label. I don't remember exactly how many times I told the lady who took my information for the return how to spell Glenn, or how to spell my last name, or how to spell my street name and so on. I do remember I had to be quite repetitive because she just kept asking me to spell it over and over again because she no comprende Inglesh so bueno. After waiting a week or two for the first label they were to have sent me, I called in to ask where it was and they said they would send another, but I should wait longer first. When I called back after a further wait, I asked to speak to a supervisor. He had an accent too, but at least he was rather the linguist. Still though, when I received the label this week, the name of the street was spelled incorrectly. Go figure.

There possibly is one bright thing in all this mess to which I can look forward, well maybe it is bright maybe not. At first I was told they were all sold out of Yugo SKS rifles in NEW condition, so they would have to send me a refund instead of an exchange. When I spoke to the supervisor weeks later, he assured me that they would send me a Yugo SKS in new condition as an exchange. When I reminded him that I had been told there were none left, he laughed and said he was certain they would send me a new one. I had ordered a new one in the first place, and they sent one that had been damaged and repaired - obviously not new, not even arsenal refinished to like new condition at that. Funny how that happened isn't it - yet they supposedly still have new ones to send me as an exchange despite the big rush to buy after the election! It almost seems as if someone was pulling our proverbial ding-a-ling by acting as if there was a short supply, maybe just to get the price raised up.

As for the new one they are supposedly going to send me in exchange, I now need to hope for two things - that is is actually in new condition so I do not have to go through the return process again, and that it was not one already returned to them by someone else who already found fault with it. Yes I am a pessimist, I expect the worst to happen and imagine they will send me one that is in worse condition that the one I just sent back to them; but nonetheless I am hopeful that it will turn out to be a new one. It would be an ice surprise for a change if it turns out to be alright.

After reading the last couple of lines above, you may think I am just a whiner and complainer who is not satisfied with anything. That is only partially correct. I bitch and moan with the best of em, but I also know a quality product when I see it, and I know when something sold to me is just a bill of goods as opposed to the real item. If I get screwed then I go into the complaint mode pretty quickly, more so when the seller gives me a song and dance or when they delay the return. Of course there is another side to me, and when I get an item that meets or exceed expectation I give high praise. The thing is though, there is a lot to bitch and moan about when it comes to things we buy nowadays. I don't know if this is just an American thing or not, I tend to doubt that it is solely our problem. Since much of the junk we are presented with in our markets is made elsewhere, I figure people in other places must get the same crap presented to them. Then again, I remember though that American made items, and American service, used to be better. This is no fantasy of my memory either, this is the absolute truth. Sure there were always scam artists who tried to get over with an inferior product, but there was also the seller who sold things of superior quality and who had salespeople and service people and guarantees of a superior nature to present and back up their products. It just is not happening anymore now is it! There I go - off on a tangent, but with sales and service like what I have received you have to wonder about American businesses and how they have the nerve to whine and moan they are not making money.

Let me just say, the Yugo is in the mail, and hopefully I will soon have one that is as they were advertised when I plopped my good money down for one of them. I paid a premium price for one in new condition, and therefore I expect to receive on in new condition - plain and simple. If they again send a clunker, you can bet my dealings with SAMCO will be at an end once I get my refund, and I will post about it here.

All the best,
Glenn B.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Nice Christmas Eve and A Nicer Christmas, all ending up with me cooking a seafood medley for tomorrow (actually for later today)

So there I was, late on Christmas Eve, ever so slightly disappointed that my Christmas Season tradition of many years had not been upheld this year. I did not have the opportunity to make it into Manhattan to make my rounds from home to Penn Station, to Macy’s, to the Empire State Building (the thing I miss most), to Rockefeller Center, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to tiffany’s and Van Cleefe and Arpels, to Central Park, to Times Square, back to Penn Station and to home. I was however, as I said, only slightly disappointed. I did spend a few hours with Brendan and my mom at the assisted living facility in which she now lives. Mind you it is not a nursing home, more of an apartment complex with people to help you through your day. She has a two and a half room apartment there; a living room, a bedroom and a kitchenette. I decided that my time this year would be better spent visiting my mom since she has only been in her new living arrangement for about 2 or 3 weeks now. Brendan was nice enough to come along, and that made my mom’s day. We also brought along Pepe (named after the cartoon skink Pepe Le Peu) our 3 ½ year old male Chihuahua. He made a lot of peoples’ day at the assisted living residence, he was a big hit among the residents as well as the workers. Of course he is always a big hit with my family, as he is with most people, but not so much with other dogs (grrrrowl, he likes to be the boss).

After we visited my mom, I was able to uphold part of my tradition of many years, a part older than my going into Manhattan each Christmas Season for the above round, and that was to get my Christmas shopping done. I stopped at a small local liquor store and picked up 3 bottles of Gluh Wein for my wife (a German spiced red wine), and of course I got something for myself. I picked up a bottle of Redbreast. It is a triple distilled unblended Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged not less than 12 years in oak casks. It is not much like the extremely smooth Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey I have enjoyed a few times in the past, it being of a more peaty/oak-like flavor along the lines of a finer Scotch Whiskys. I prefer the Knappogue Castle, but this stuff is not bad at all. That triple distilling of Irish Whiskeys has something going for it (note the ‘e’ in the Irish and not in the Scotch spelling of Whiskey/Whisky). After that I made a quick stop at a local Korean market for some delectable seafood and other goodies for a meal to be cooked by me in the near future. Clams, Mussels, Shrimp, Squid, Pork Bellies, Rib Eye Steak, baby potatoes, scallions, Oyster Mushrooms, and Shitake Mushrooms all for one of my special dishes.

After that I was off to the local mall. Once there I headed for Dick’s Sporting Goods to get a gift for my daughter’s boyfriend, who everyone else thinks is that kind of person for whom it is impossible to pick the right gift. I headed right to the knife display and picked out a Benchmade Folding Knife:

http://www.benchmade.com/products/product_detail.aspx?model=10402.

As it turned out, I walked into the store, got to the hunting department on the second floor, and as soon as I got there they made an announcement that the store was closing in 5 minutes. Of course there were no salespeople in sight. I did find a young lass who was arranging things on a rack, and I asked her to help me get a knife – since they were locked in a display cabinet. I asked her how much was the Benchmark I had selected, and she was nice enough to find a scanner and price it for me at – well at a fair price is all I will say for a Benchmark knife. I took it to the checkout without her following me – as is required with most of the knives (and as it should have been with this one), and I made it to the checkout just as they announced the store was closed and that all purchases had to be brought to the checkout counters. I paid with cash and with a $10.00 certificate I had from Dick’s. Not a bad deal, wish I had enough to have gotten one for myself.

The I was off to home where put the finishing touches on our tree. When we had arrived home from my mom’s, Brendan put the lights on it, then headed off to his girlfriends. I was left to put the ornaments on it, and decided to do that after getting my shopping done. Yep, we only put up our tree on Christmas Eve this year, and I only purchased it the night before. A nice tree too at that. Once that was done, I wrapped a few remaining presents, and placed everything under the tree. Then I had a nice glass of Irish Cream liqueur, and then hit the hay.

Christmas Day was a nice one to which to wake up after the more recent days of inclement weather. It had snowed the past weekend, then we had some freezing rain, and then of Christmas Eve it was cold and rainy. Christmas Day, on the other hand was sunny when I crawled out of bed at about 0700, and it had warmed up considerably, probably into the 40s. Now I like a White Christmas more than do most folks, but I did not want to have to drive 85 miles to my sister’s place in the snow, and as it turned out it was a grand day for a drive. First things first, I made a pot of coffee (half French Guatemalan and half Tanzanian Peaberry) and then started on the bacon for breakfast. Linda cooked the eggs and biscuits, and Brendan helped us finish it all. Then we opened presents. Celina was away with her beau. Then it was off to Brendan’s sweetheart’s house to pick her up for the ride to my sister’s place where we would enjoy the day with my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, my brother, my sister-in-law, my mom and 8 dogs. Now back to the day being a grand one for a drive, it was actually even grander than expected since Brendan drove there and back. The day at my sister’s place was great, her cooking was absolutely delicious from the shrimp/crab spread she makes from scratch to the rack of Prime Rib for the main course to the chocolate birthday cake we had for my mom.

After we arrived home, Celina and her beau showed up and they opened their presents. After Celina departed, Linda cleaned up. Then she was off to bed, and I set about cooking up the seafood I also had bought yesterday. Once things were cleaned up and Linda was off to bed, and I headed to the kitchen for that seafood meal I was going to cook. As it turned out the mussels had keeled over. The clams were okay as was everything else except maybe the squid which was questionable. I tossed out the mussels and the squid and took it from there. I just got done making the whole meal, with the exception of the clams, which are in a basin in salt water cleansing themselves and waiting, unbeknownst to them, to be steamed. They may or may not be added to the dish tomorrow; I am debating on having them steamed plain. Things I added to my other ingredients in the pot and from the home larder were a can of tomato paste, a can of tomato sauce, lots of garlic powder, lots of black pepper, sea-salt, and some crushed hot red pepper sauce that I picked up in Chinatown. Oh yes, lest I forget, I added two bottles of good German Octoberfest bier to the mix, and a few dashes of ground Cinnamon and a dash of ground cloves. I have got to say that my creation of no name is tasty. I am sure that all will love it for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

It is now about 2:25 on the day after Christmas, and I think it high time I get my ass to bed and try to catch some z’s.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thanks From The Troops - Soldiers' Holiday Care Package

Today, Christmas Day, I received one of the best gifts of all in the form of an email, and it is one that I have to share with those of you who made a doantion to the Soldiers' Holiday Care Package. Thanks from these guys, who are doing their all for us back home, is humbling indeed when it is they who deserve the thanks.


Re: Merry Christmas‏
From:
jamie v------------
Sent:
Thu 12/25/08 11:36 AM
To:
glenn bartley (gbarthgwt@msn.com)
.ExternalClass DIV
{;}
hi glenn

Merry Christmas to you and your family and the friends who donated the care packages
the ear plugs came in at a good time, alot of guys were asking for some, my soldiers love the knifes and flash lights, the snackes to but i love the cigars we all smoke one today for christmas. they all told me to tell you and your friends thank you and i myself really do appreciate the gifts and snackes so much well enjoy christmas with you family and thank you again from
SSG v--------- and the boys of task force glory fob salerno


It is good to know they received the care packages and that they enjoyed everything we were able to send to them.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and a special extra Merry Christmas to those of you who helped with donations to make their Christmas a little bit nicer on foreign soil; and of course a very Merry Christmas to all of guys and gals in the U.S. Military Services.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas To All No Matter What Your Beliefs;
and I mean that with all of my best wishes for peace,
and for prosperity for all within in our lifetimes.
We won't get there, not ever, if we don't wish
in our own way something likewise for each
and everyone of us - for all mankind.


Monday, December 22, 2008

My Mortgage - A Little Personal Yesterday In History Sort of Thing

Today is the first day of the solar new year, the day on which daylight hours start to again get longer after yesterday having been the Winter Solstice with the shortest day and longest night of the year. It seems a fitting day for a new beginning and so it will be for me. Today I am sending in a change of billing form to my local town, and to my local village relative to my property taxes. My tax and insurance payments had previously come out of my escrow account; however, since my mortgage was recently payed off - exactly one year and one month early - it was time for me to make this change. It was a 15 year mortgage. We paid it off in one month under 14 years as the payment schedule stood.

Here is an event that is a funny coincidence, certainly not at all a planned event. As I sat here going through my papers, it became apparent to me that my wife and I took out our mortgage on December 21, 1994 - the Winter Solstice - or maybe the day before the Winter Solstice that year (info I have found varies on the date for that year between the 21st and 22nd). Whichever, it was darned close to the the shortest day/longest night of the year, a good time for things to end (such as being without our own home) and a good time to look forward to new beginnings. If it was the 22 back in 94 then what a coincidence that today, exactly 14 years later, our mortgage already has been paid off (done on the 1st), and I am making the change in the tax billing today. If it was the 21st back then, then it is still a pretty nifty coincidence that we got our mortgage at the end of the solar year, and we changed our taxes today on the commencement of a new solar year all by chance. Oh well, just thought it was an amusing thing to mention.

I had better remember to play the lottery today!

All the best,
GB

Yesterday In History - Pan Am Flight 103 - 20 Years Ago

Yep this is a Yesterday In History instead of today in history because I wanted but forgot to write about Pam Am 103's 20th anniversary yesterday.

It was on December 21, 1988 that a bomb aboard Pam Am flight 103 exploded in flight killing a total of 270 people both on the Clipper Maid of the Seas (name of the aircraft), and on the ground. (It was an aircraft, and flight, with which I had quite some familiarity in my duites as a Customs Patrol Officer, and then as a Customs Investigator, at JFK Airport back then.) In all, 259 people on the aircraft perished, as did 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie Scotland on whom the exploded aircraft rained down. Many Americans are unaware of the facts that: Of all the victims who perished, 180 of them were U.S. Citizens; and this terrorist attack was the worst terrorist attack against Americans in history up until 9/11/2001. How people today have forgotten it, or just have never learned about it baffles my mind but such is the case with many Americans. It galled me no end yesterday when I heard on the radio news that the United States of America had or is about to resume diplomatic ties with Libya the country from which came the terrorists who were suspected of planting the bomb, and the country which bore responsibility for the actions of the bomber(s).

Only one was convicted for this bombing the other was acquitted by Scottish Courts. The convicted, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, a Libyan Intelligence officer, was convicted in January 2001 and sentenced to jail for a period of time only a liberal arse wipe could have chosen - 27 years. He got sentenced to 1 year in jail for each 10 people he killed - amazing. Imagine killing 270 people, destroying a multi-million dollar aircraft, destroying homes on the ground, causing a multi-million investigation, casing a settlement by your home nation amounting to a few billion dollars and then getting only 27 years in jail for your crimes. He has since appealed his conviction, but his first appeal failed. He then filed for a review of his case and it was determined by the Scottish Criminal Cases review Commission that his case may have been a miscarriage of justice. His second appeal is pending being put on the calendar. Of course he maintains his innocence. I maintain he is guilty since he was found so by a court of law in a civilized and just country, one that was overly just to him in that they gave him only 27 years behind bars. Of course there can have been a miscarriage of justice, and if that is truly the case he should be retried. If, however, it is some bullshit technicality by which his lawyers are trying to free him, well all I can say is a pox upon them.

As to Libya's part, Libya after quite some time admitted involvement and agreed to pay a substantial monetary amount to the relatives of the survivors, in the billions of dollars, at least several million per famly of each victim. I do not think it will ever even come close to putting this to an end although the execution of those responsible might help for their surviving relatives.

They who perished on on Pam Am flight 103 and those who perished in Lockerbie on the ground on December 21, 1988 have not been forgotten and they, and their families and loved ones, are in my thoughts and well wishes. As for the bastards who did it, and those who have committed other acts of terrorism, they should never be forgotten either. They too should be in our thoughts, and we should reserve special prayers or wishes for them too, but of a distinctly and drastically different nature than those with which we honor the victims - something much more harsh than a 27 year sentence should be in our minds set aside for them and other terrorists.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Shopping On Winter Solstice

The weather outside wasn't frightful,
and there was no fire inside to make it delightful,
So away I went to do some Christmas shopping
Just a store hopping and hopping and hopping...

And guess what, Christmas shopping 4 days and a wake up before Christmas was actually rather nice. The parking lot at a local mall was pretty packed but I knew enough to stay away from the store and park in a place from whence I would need to walk a few hundred yards. Just that little distance makes all the difference in whether or not you are driving around for 15 minutes closer to the entrance, or 15 seconds further out. For me it was 15 seconds - just about literally.

Once inside the stores I realized I forgot a $10 coupon I had for Dick's Sporting Goods. I was going to buy something for Brendan but decided that the $10 coupon would be worth the wait so I held off for another day. Yes that likely means I'll wait until Christmas Eve for that gift, especially since I finished with everything else today. Well maybe not finished, I got my wife a gift and then found out another color would likely have been better. So if I go back, I exchange that gift. Luckily she does not tread my blog so I can mention that here.

I spent some time strolling around the mall, then headed into Macy's. Macy's is a Christmas Season must for me. I must go there, I must buy something there. Ever since I was a fairly young lad, my mom would take me there shopping in NYC. We would always stop to see the Macy's and Gimble's (another but now defunct department store that was Macy's competitor right across the street) Christmas displays in their windows. At Christmas time there was always, and I mean always as in every year we went, and that I continued to go for some years later, a live Santa display at both stores. It was sort of a rivalry as to which store had the better show. Santa would come out every 15 to 20 minutes or so for a Ho-Ho-Ho. There was also a religious aspect to the displays as I recall. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I visited Macy's in NYC to be disgusted by the semi naked mannequins they had decked out in what I recall were red, green and blue sequined outfits, fit for sluts in my opinion. Now don't get me wrong, I am a red blooded male and I can enjoy a cheap thrill right along with another man when a woman wants to dress in scanty attire - but it was not fit for a Christmas display in my opinion. It was that way for at least a few years. I stopped going, not to Macy's but to see the displays (Gimble's was already long gone by then as I recall). This year I also visited Macy's in NYC, that was last week, and there was a Christmas display fit for children but with many figures that I could not associate with Christmas. Maybe they are from recent Christmas shows but I kind of doubt it, they look like something a designer from the Chelsea section in NYC would have thought up when in a bad and bitchy mood. Oh well, it was all in Christmas motif nonetheless, and there was a Santa display - no not live - not in the store window anyhow.

As for today, I strolled around Macy's in Westbury, NY on Long Island for a couple of hours. Several salesladies asked if needed directions, or if they could help me find an item, and each had a concerned look on their faces as if I appeared lost, or dumbfounded or something like that. I explained to each that if they thought I looked dazed and confused that was okay because I had no idea about that for which I was shopping and I explained that made it more fun. All that attention made it fun too. So I just aimlessly walked around and took in the feeling of the season (mind you even the first Christmas had an awful lot to do with gifts, and I do not mean just the Frank Incense, Myrrh and gold since as I recall another gift was given that day - and that is why we have Christmas in the first place). But I digress, back to Macy's. Of course the concerned salesladies only stopped me after I already had bought my wife a couple of things, things that I did have in mind before I entered the store. I got them right out of the way - sort of anyhow. I had to go to the counter three times to get one item at the 40% off they advertised on the stand where I found it. Two times I was told it was not on sale, by saleslady A and then saleslady B, then the third time saleslady A said it was on sale and that is how it rang up at 40% off. Go figure, I suppose third time was a charm, and 40% savings was worth the extra 20 minutes or so. Then I went into the aforementioned dazed and confused mode, and it was kind of fun having all those ladies trying to help to poor middle aged guy who looked so much like he needed help. I did that for another 45 minutes or so then headed back out into the rest of the mall. I couldn't find anything else, and then took off to visit my mom.

Maybe it was the fact that it is Winter Solstice and the first day of winter today that helped make my shopping experience so easy and so much fun, or maybe it was just luck, or whatever - but it was fun and easy. That is a good way to end the year. Yes, this really is the end of the solar year since the days are finally about to begin to get longer, as in tomorrow. Since today was the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere it essentially was the end of the solar year for us as it would have been for ancient people. I imagine it was no coincidence that Christianity chose December 25th as the time for the birth of their savior; and yes Christianity chose that date - or at least the Roman Catholic Church chose it. It is much more likely that the Christ child was actually born in the Spring. Now don't get me wrong, if you choose to believe otherwise that is fine by me. I am not trying to belittle Christmas or its importance to Christians, not at all. While I am no longer religious, I still find the essence of Christmas, in that it is a time of spirituality, and of loving, and of gift giving to be one of the best times of the year.

Well anyway, the next thing you know it will be April Fools' Day - well of course not before it is: Chanukah, legal New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, Groundhogs' Day, Purim (ahh, hamantashen, mmm goood), St. Patrick's Day and a few others in there somewhere along with daylight savings time.

Back to whatever it was that caused my good time shopping today, I had a blast. I am looking forward to one more day of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. I may have to go to Manhattan for that one, I mean how can I miss my annual trip to the LIRR station in my village, for a train ride to Penn Station, then a walk to 34th Street, a further walk east on 34th Street with a stop in Macy's of course, then onward east on 34th toward 5th Avenue, then a stop at the top of the world (observation deck on the Empire State Building), and then a walk north on 5th Avenue to see the tree and ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, then across the street and a few blocks north to to St. Patrick's Cathedral (yes I am not religious but am spiritual and it is a wonderful place in which to be spiritual), and then to stroll up 5th Avenue and gawk in the windows at Tiffany's and Van Cleef and Arpels, and then to walk through Central Park's southern end over to 7th Avenue, then down 7th through Times Square maybe with a stop for some liquid refreshment (though not right in the tourist trap of the Times Square area), then further down 7th to 34th Street to Penn Station for the train ride home. That my friends, or something very similar, has become a tradition for many years now, and I hope to do it again this year with wife and kids in tow or not; and chances are I will be on my own this year because everyone else is working or otherwise busy on Christmas Eve. Any way I do it though it will be enjoyable and spiritual.

All the best,

GB

Off To Do Some Christmas Shooping...

...and then to visit my mom (or maybe vice versa). That should make for a good post later on tonight, at least the shopping part because I can write about the maddened throngs of bargain hunters and shopping procrastinators (like myself) whom were at it today.

All the best,
GB

The Bitch Girls - I Hate To See You Go

I have a lot of links over on the right side of my blog to websites that I believed were worthy of note. There are many more out there and it would be easy to replace a gap left by a blog that shuts down. Then again it is not all that easy to produce the quality for which we are left wanting when a good blog pulls the plug. We have been left wanting because a good blog is no longer with us: http://www.thebitchgirls.us/?p=9741

Now I readily admit I only found out about this today, I try to read all those sites once per week but that ain't easy when the schedule gets moving, so it had been awhile before I visited the Bitch Girls blog. I got a shock when I did so a few moments ago. Yep, it has closed down. I would have liked to have left this post as a comment there about why it should not shut down but the comments section has been closed down as far as I can tell.

The explanation for the closing is there for all of you to see - something about lack of inspiration and the Blogosphere having changed and blogging not being fun, and having more important things to do elsewhere. Gosh darn it, why not do those important activism things by way of your blog and make it more fun for yourself - you had a very good one, so why shut it down. Bitter - why not do that something different you want to do but do it by way of the blog. Of course it is not my decision to make, so I wish you farewell, and hope that you will come back to blogging soon.

By the way, that feeling that the Internet or the Blogosphere or anything else is not the same, that more important things need to be done, that things are not fun anymore, that you have little to no inspiration - that's often caused by something by which we do not even realize we are afflicted. That is depression - no not necessarily clinical whackadoo depression, just the mild type that makes us pine for something better. If it has anything to do with your blog closing because maybe you thought it was not all it could be, let me just say it was very good indeed; and that I hate to see you go. I'll leave up the link to The Bitch Girls site for awhile just in case you decide to come back soon.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Opinion - President George W. Bush is a Liberal Left Wing SOCIALIST...

...who probably has destroyed our way of life at least economically. He has sold the free market system, what was left of it anyhow, right down the toilet by giving away our hard earned money to those who were abject failures in both the financial industry and now in the auto industry. He has unabashedly shown his true ultra liberal colors and socialized the economy of the United States of America - once the greatest free market economy in the world. As liberal as he is, Barack Hussein Obama, in my opinion, most certainly cannot fuck it up much more though I am sure he will try his best. Economically we are lower than the bottom of the barrel, and that is due in great part to the current president whom I now consider to be, in my personal opinion, the most inept boob to have occupied the White House in my lifetime. Yes that means in my estimation President Bush has even surpassed the incompetency levels of President Jimmy Carter - and Carter was tough to match let alone surpass in his incompetency.

Sure there are some things I liked about Bush, and I cannot think of anything I liked about Carter; but the point here is that Bush has screwed up more than Carter ever did. We would have been better off with 25% Home Mortgages than what we have had over the past 10 years or so and what we have wound up with now. Sure less people would have bought homes, and guess what - our economy would not have been broadsided by collapsing mortgage companies, failing banks, and other financial flops. As for the auto industry, they were doomed to fail sooner or later for putting out the crap they try to pass off as quality automobiles while paying their workers over inflated salaries thanks to union thuggery. Well I suppose the union bosses are all waving their red flags right about now. Nope - not flags of warning but flags of nations that were also socialist nations just like we are now. Didn't you know many unions have a history of supporting socialism. Sure they do - they want to spread the wealth whether their members have earned it or not, and it looks as if that is just what the Bushes wanted too.

I have to tell you that right about now thoughts of the American revolution are going through my head. I figure that if someone like Bush was in power back then, the revolution would have come sooner, and more colonists would have joined in against the then government if Bush had been at the helm. Who knows, the current bailouts may well lead to a new revolution in our lifetimes. The economy may get better, if we are lucky. The thing is, stuff like this - a super lousy economy - usually does not get better by luck - but only through hard work or war or both. You know who usually does that hard work, the people who lost it all as they try to earn something back to elevate themselves from the gutters back up into the realm of financial comfort. This time there is no chance of that because Bush and our billions have elevated them back into financial comfort without any of the hard work. I knew we were doomed once I heard Bush yesterday on the news when he said something to the effect of having a dilemma: allowing the free market system to fail, or saving the free market system by reverting principles that have nothing to do with the free market system (as in socialism) to save it. The next thing you know he will have us paying a flat tax at a 75% rate.

I suppose the one hint of light at the end of this long dark and dank tunnel is that Ford is refusing the bailout money. Of course they will accept low interest loans from the government, but they are not stooping as low as are GM and Chrysler to accept pure bailout money. The true irony in all of this is that Ford is in the best shape of all of the Big 3 auto makers because they mortgaged almost all of their assets in 2006.

Sorry, but right now it does not feel all that great to be an American. I am saddened, and ashamed at how our country is turning out. I am disgusted by our current president and his actions. I am even more disgusted by the actions of our Congress. I am fearful of our President elect and his band of Clintonian stooges. I am worried that our government will need to declare bankruptcy within a few years (and if they do they I will have to also as mine will be a government pension). I am fearful that we are facing another Great Depression, and it is barreling down the pike, headed right at us at full speed, and we still do not see it coming. I dread the prospect of a new world war. Most of all though, I fear the American people and what they have become to allow our great nation to have been brought to the point that it seems the majority of us want something for nothing (whether or not they agree with this bailout), and they want it from our fellow citizens at any cost. I am as lost in this mess as is any hard working American who believes he has a right to what he has earned, and that while charity is nice - others have no entitlement to our the fruits of our labors. This is not the former USSR or any of the Eastern-Bloc countries but it is sure beginning to look that way and that makes the U.S.A. a very scary place indeed to those of us with true freedom based principles and who remember the oppression of socialism and communism. Why people do not see an example to avoid in Venezuela, in China, in Cuba and in North Korea just baffles me, and here we are turning to their type of economy.

I do not know what to do, or where to turn to find some assurance that we will get back to what we once were or at least close to it, but do know it is going to be a long hard journey and we may never again get close to it. The answer of the past, throughout history, to solve truly atrocious economic problems, and you can check objective history books on this, has always been to wage a major scale war. I hope we can avoid one, but I am none to optimistic about that either; and I do not mean the wars we are in right now either. I am talking about world war, the biggest one yet; I hope it does not come to that.

As it stands now, the liberals, and I mean the ultra extremist left wingers, have won. It was their whipping boy - George W. Bush - who has led them to victory. Next thing you know you will see him celebrating with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and others of the same ilk as they suck us dry of our money, then of our liberties, and then of our rights and ultimately turn our Republic into something the likes of which would be suitable for a communist dirge.

Feeling disgusted,
Glenn B

RUBBER BANDS ARE JUST OUTRIGHT EVIL

Oh the evils of rubber bands, you certainly must know of at least some of them. I mean, when you were a kid way back around the mischievous age of 9 - 12 you almost certainly shot rubber bands off of your thumb or forefinger (held cocked like a pistol) at other kids. Maybe even sometimes you were just so downright evil with them to have shot them at the mailman from behind cover of a bush, or at a passerby from out of your window while you hid in the safety of the room, or at your family dog or cat and had everyone wondering why Fido or kitty just jumped up on mom's lap like that, or maybe you even had the steel nerves of a true desperado and you shot at your teacher while she was writing out a homework assignment on the blackboard.

That was kid stuff though, rubber bands were and are a lot more evil than shooting em off of your fingers. Don't know what I mean - oh come now sure you do and you know because you probably did it but just don't want to admit it. The next step up was the rubber band launched off of the ruler trick. It was a pretty simple step up from shooting them off your finger, but with a ruler you got a lot more velocity and there fore a lot more ouch on the receiving end. Another things about shooting them off of rulers was the fact that you could put about at least a dozen of em stretched onto a ruler, and fire em off rapidly with just repeated flicks of your thumb. Sort of a rubber band machine gun. I loved shooting em that way, really got the class bully good one day Of course I never did any of that just saw the bullies doing it and felt their sting. Later on they actually came out with some wooden guns that could hold a whole lot of rubber bands and fire em in rapid succession, but sadly I was grown up by then and Peter Pan had thrown me out of the club.

Those things pale though when you consider other atrocities that are caused by the evil rubber band. I was up on my uncle's farm one day several years ago and the talk got to farm animals of which he had several such as goats, sheep, and a darned big porker. He got to talking about different things and brought up a subject he had breached to me a few times over the years as far back as when I was a young teen. That subject was rubber bands, and although he did not call them evil it was obvious to a smart fella like me that yes indeed that is just what they were - evil as sin. I mean here was my uncle telling me about all the uses of them that he knew about throughout the years and one of em was to emasculate farm animals. Yep, you heard me right, to cut of the nuts of a young male pig or bull or sheep or whatever. I told him he was crazy but he insisted that in days of old a farmer who wanted a more docile animal - a steer so to speak - would wrap a rubber band around the testicles of a young bull or other farm animal and sooner of later they would die off, shrivel up and fall off likes nuts falling out of a oak tree. I again reminded him he was crazy but he stuck to his guns.

My uncle was a learned man (Cornell) and he also told me of another ruse, this one on humans. No not to make them sing alto, I did say another use! He swore to me that in the days when doctors were fewer and further between, and cars were less available, all within his lifetime, that there had been a sure fire cure, a self cure mind you (otherwise one done by only the most intimate of friends and they really would have had to have liked you a lot) for hemorrhoids. Yep, just the same as the farm animal nuts. Wrap the rubber band tightly as you can around the base of a roid, and sooner of later that dies off and falls off too. I cannot imagine the scar it must leave. Let me correct that last, oh yes I can but without giving out too much information allow me to say not because of having ever done that with a rubber band. Ouch - that is evil indeed I don't care if the result is a blessed event, the means is just too nasty.

For years I just thought my uncle a harmless kook when it came to these things; in other words I just did not believe him. Then one day I found a farm supply catalogue. It had a whole slew of bands and banding devices for castrating animals advertised on one page. There were rubber bands of various sizes, all thick as you could imagine, and all requiring a stretching device to open em wide enough to get em over the obstacles and into place. Sort of a pair of pliers that worked in reverse. Man those rubber bands are evil indeed. Look at all the nasty things that people thought up because of them, and all the pain they inflicted because of them.

Of course it wasn't always the rubber band itself that caused the pain. Sometimes just like guns it was not the object that we wish to call evil or ban that causes the actual harm but rather the projectile they fire that does the evil deed itself. So like a gun needing bullets, the rubber band was left needing something to fire. Leave it to the mind of a kid to come up with making a rubber band into an object to shoot projectiles. Yep - I am talking about that evil little shiny booger the paper clip! I don't know what cesspool of a mind thought up that one, but my bet is that the kid who thought of it first was a Catholic School kid being taught by nuns and lectured to by priests. Just something about them that brings out the worst in a kid, I know from experience. Once rubber bands were given paper clips as ammo, well it should have stood to reason that they should have been banned, and paper clips should have been taxed at the rate of 500% per clip, if not by the individual states then by the combined legislative powers of the House of representatives and the Senate with signature of the President added to the bill. I mean, just how much more evil did they have to prove themselves before such legislation was enacted. For some reason that legislation never came about, not even after rubber bands were used to make crude bow strings for the uuber evil homemade bow and arrow sets, or the extremely evil homemade crossbows both using things like pointed straws or small sticks as arrow projectiles.

You may be wondering if, after all these years, rubber bands have not been banned then why make a stink about them now! I'll tell you why - because they just keep on proving themselves to be absolutely evil that is why. I mean just take a look at what kids some people are doing with them now in order to have fun with them and guns. Can you imagine that - having fun with rubber bands and guns! Outrageous I tell you. Just click on the link while I go look to see if I have any evil rubber bands like those in the video:

http://shock.military.com/Shock/videos.do?displayContent=181438&page=1

If for some reason in the future that link goes down, then go to You Tube and search for: bump fire rubber band.

So now that you took some time to watch the video, while I took the time to search for rubber bands all to no avail, what do you think? I'll tell you what I think. I think I have spent enough time writing about this, and enough time looking for rubber bands I do not have; and I have come to the conclusion that I have two choices. I am going to either have to handcuff myself to something in my house and throw the key across the room, or I am going to give into temptation and go out to my local office supply store to buy myself a big box of thick rubber bands, just like the ones in that video, then grab my son's AK and some ammo and head to the range. Nope I am not waiting for him to get home from wherever he is, no sir - the temptation to go out and do evil have some fun with rubber bands and a rifle is just too much. If I do that though, I can just envision 3,000 or so rounds of 7.62x39 ammo we had in the ammo locker winding up as just that - ammo we HAD in the ammo locker! If I shoot it all up I'd have to replace all that ammo at the premium prices they are currently asking and that would take a bite, a huge one at that, out of the Christmas present funds I have on hand.

Decisions - decisions all whilst being tempted by Siren's Song of the rubber band! I can hear them twanging now between the rat-tat-tats of the AK. You see, I told you they were evil those nasty rubber bands! They are the Saturday Night specials of the office supply world, cheap yet deadly. I wonder how it is that wise and prudent overbearing pompous politicians, who know better than the rest of us, like Senators: Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Frank Lautenberg, Diane Feinstein, or Representatives: Carolyn McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, Anthony Weiner, Sheila Jackson or their like have not seen the same evils of the rubber band and have not yet had them banned. Oh the deep dark ruthless evil inherent in the rubber band, there just ought to be a law against em.

All the best,
Glenn B

Where in Hades are those darned handcuffs when I need em??????????